My Beer Story
Posted on January 31, 2011 by Joshua Nathan Doty
One year, while working and going to college in Rhode Island, I came back to Bainbridge Island to visit my parents. They took me to a new pub on the island and I ordered something called a “microbrew.” It was a pint of Hales Pale Ale. After years of blissful ignorance drinking mass-produced beers it was like the roof and clouds above me opened up and a light shined down onto my head and the ale glass in my hands. It was full of the elixir of the gods. It was a moment of enlightenment; a moment of clarity. A rush of awareness flowed through my mouth and down my throat, into my veins and swirled around in my brain. It was as if my whole world was changing. To this day, whenever I get a six pack of that beautiful American Pale Ale I am instantly transported back to that first sip of “real” beer.
Going back to Rhode Island a week later was torture. Where was I going find something as delicious for my body and soul? For years I survived on the same old Pete’s Wicked, Sam Adams, Bass and Guinness, but I longed for that special Northwest style craft ale. Every time I came back to Seattle, I would try as many new and wonderful beers as I could get my hands on; local craft beers, regional microbrews, imports, etc.
After college I moved back to Seattle. Right up the street from work was the Six Arms. Years worth of Friday nights were spent there with work friends over endless pints while smelling the beer brewing in the back. One night a few of those friends and I started chatting about learning how to make our own beer. One of us had heard of Liberty Malt Supply located down at the market.
And so it began.
Those friends and I all bought starter kits and started out brewing all extract beers. This was all pretty low end brewing for a while. We learned partial mash brewing and finally a few all grain batches were attempted. We carried on for a few years culminating in two annual all homebrew Oktoberfests in my back yard.
In 2000 and 2001 our small homebrew club, the Lame Duck Brew Club, brewed a ton of beer over the course of several months. Preparation for both of these parties included the creation of 18 (2000) and 21 (2001) five gallon batches of beer, all in bottles, ranging from Pilsners all the way to ridiculous stouts. We made a website as an invitation, a passport listing all the beers and recipes that could be stamped as you tried each beer, six ounce glasses with the club logo etched on the side, tables and tents, food, a port-a-potty, etc. More than 150 people came to each party and drank a ton of beer, ate a ton of food and had a great time. These parties were a great success and are still talked about today.
After the Oktoberfest in 2001, my brewing tapered off and eventually stopped. Circumstances for everyone else started to change and there was a decrease in brewing for several of us in the club and there hasn’t been Oktoberfest round 3. Yet.
For me, starting a family, buying a house, selling the house and moving overseas, giving away my gear, and a host of other factors, all led to me not brewing for more than nine years. During that time I had an ever increasing distaste for the work I was doing, and I was searching on the other side of the fence for those proverbial greener pastures, but never finding them. Every time my wife and I would talk about what else I could do with the skills I had, the subjects of cooking and brewing, among other things, always came up in the conversation. It took a long time for that to sink in, but I finally realized that the answer to my question was staring right at me the entire time: I want to be a brewer!
So here we are in 2011, and I have found my calling. I’m brewing regularly again (strictly all grain beers), reading brewing books, joining homebrew clubs, entering competitions, started a twitter page and a blog, volunteering at breweries, and doing whatever I can to improve my skills so that I can make the best beer I can with the gear I’ve got. Not only to master the hobby, but also to get to a point where I can turn a hobby I love into my professional career.
In regular blogs that will follow I will comment on my experiences in brewing, offer recipes and techniques, review beers that I have tried for the first time and others that I love, and I will share my experience in educating myself in my effort to become a professional brewer.